Category Archives: things i love

Fifteen.

A couple of months ago, I was looking at Instagram, and a popular blogger that I follow on IG had posted a picture of her sweet family…they’d been travelling in an RV for a number of weeks together. She seems like a fun mom, and I love watching what she does with her kids through pictures. However, what caught my attention was the couple of comments that were visible under the picture.

I’m paraphrasing, but the gist was this, from 2 different moms: “We do EVERYTHING with our kids. We have never ever gotten a babysitter, even to go out for dinner, because we never want to be without them. Why would we want to go on an adventure and not include them?”

I almost choked on my tea.

Because, you see, I love my kids. So much. My only serious childhood ambition was to be a mom someday (and a cashier and an Avon lady. Which hasn’t happened yet, really. Who knows what the future holds though, right?), and I am one. I love travelling with them and seeing new things for the first time with them.

But are you even kidding me? Never getting a babysitter? Never doing anything without them? I’m sorry, but to me, that’s just not healthy for you as an adult human, or for your marriage. I’ve blogged before about how I think couples have to be careful not to lose sight of each other while they’re in the messy throes of raising kids (12 in ’12 was all about this for us), because before you know it, those kids are on their own, and you’re married to a stranger. No one wants that, right?

So, all that to justify say: Matt and I ran away to the beach last week for 5 days to celebrate our 15th anniversary, and it was truly, truly one of the highlights of my life. And we have Matt’s parents to majorly thank for totally stepping in and taking over the household for us while we were gone…they even left me with a clean house and garage, and the laundry done. Doesn’t get much better than that!!

We joked that we didn’t even know if we would be good at going on a sit-your-butt-on-the-beach vacation, since we’re usually go-do-a-ton-of-stuff vacationers (Nashville, Nashville again, Boston…). However, as it turns out, we killed it at laying in beach chairs. Literally for 4 full days, our only responsibility was making sure that we reapplied sunscreen regularly. We read books (you guys, my non-reader husband read TWO WHOLE BOOKS while we were gone), listened to music and the ocean, walked the beach and collected shells, and made getting back to the beach (or, just staying there all day) for sunset our job. Oh, and plenty of eating, and drinking Lime-a-Ritas like they were nutritious.

I don’t know if I can go back to do-something vacations after this. I’m afraid it ruined me in the best way possible.

It’s not that I ever would’ve shunned a vacation at the beach. I mean, hello, parenting babies and toddlers is incredibly exhausting, too. But as we reflected on the trip, and the time of year that we took it, it made sense why this felt like perfect timing. For the past couple of years, and the foreseeable future, our March-September is c-r-a-z-y with baseball. And you all know we wouldn’t have it any other way! The rest of the year feels so much more regular-busy-family manageable.

October is the perfect time to go to the beach. I’m polishing up my persuasive speech skills to talk Matt into this again. :)

I didn’t even mention where we went, did I? Siesta Key, Florida, right outside Sarasota. We visited a few neighboring beaches, too, to compare, and none of them even came close. I’d choose Siesta Key again in a heartbeat.

Sigh. So that’s it. Here are a few pictures, to make you want to go, too.

Next week, if I’m brave enough, I’ll blog about body image and what living in a bikini for a few days taught me. We’ll see.

Vacation 2014: The Wisconsin Part

As is custom in our family, we wait until the boys’ baseball season is over to travel. Which means that by the time late July rolls around, we are very ready to get out of town for a while!

This year’s vacation had 3 parts: Wisconsin and 2 parts in Colorado. We spent a weekend in Wisconsin with Matt’s family, came home Sunday, Matt worked Monday while the boys and I did laundry and repacked everything, and then very early Tuesday morning we headed to the airport. It was a whirlwind but really, really fun!

Our extended family now numbers 16 on the Diehl side, which means we’ve outgrown the family cottage. Therefore, Matt and the boys and I stayed in a little cottage across the neighborhood from the rest of the family, which worked out fine! We spent our lake time eating (great meals out but also pounds of Chex Mix, which I have proven time and again I have no self-control with), playing baseball, shopping a little bit in Lake Geneva, eating some more, and playing at the Assembly Park beach. Just all-around fun family time at Lake Delavan!

Sidenote: Luke found this picture of our family at the lake years ago on Google Images. Isn’t that crazy? Also: we had a talk about not searching Google Images, because, you know, they aren’t always PG.

So here’s the rest of the story, told in pictures…

Jack Henry’s New Dream

Toward the end of his baseball season, Jack Henry played catcher in a few games.

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It was adorable.

After the first time, he said he didn’t really like it. But after a few more tries, he was sold on being a catcher.

I went to garage sales one time early this summer, and found a practically-new kids’ catcher’s mitt for five bucks. I bought it simply because we have 3 baseball players in the house, and I thought when someone was doing pitching practice, whoever was catching could use the mitt.

Honestly, I’ve never much wanted any of the boys to be a catcher. It’s the position with so much potential for impact and concussion (which is why I don’t want them playing football, either!), and it’s bad on your knees. However, if any of our kids are built to be catchers, let’s face it, it’s Jack Henry.

—–

Well. After the season ended, and Jack Henry made his announcement that he was going to be a catcher, that mitt became his. It’s been on his hand for hours and hours during the last 3 weeks, including the times his brothers have taken out into the side yard to teach him some basic catching skills. Luke and Bennett were surprisingly patient and gave some really good instruction…it was a summer parenting high for me to watch :).

The glove had obviously not been oiled or broken in very well by its previous owner, so the other day I found this note on the counter for Matt.

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I just don’t want to forget the sweet little-boy writing, the passion behind this big ambition, and the time he’s already spending trying to get better. Maybe he won’t end up loving being a catcher, but for now, it’s his dream. And I’m loving being able to watch it.

Telling Time.

Sunday night, after the last of the boys’ baseball games was officially rained out, we hopped in the van to go get frozen custard.

Jack Henry grabbed this book on his way out the door:

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It’s a handmade quiet book that my mom’s beloved sister, my Aunt Dee, made for me when I was really little. It has all sorts of fun little activities, and my boys have all enjoyed it, too, as preschoolers. I thought they’d outgrown it for the most part until the other night, when Jack Henry pointed out the clock page.

JH asked if we’d teach him to tell time, so on the 15-minute drive, we taught him the hour and minute hand, and how to count by 5’s around the clock. Then he wanted me to give him times to put on the clock with its moveable hands, so I did.

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Matt decided to complicate it a bit and taught him quarter after and to and half past the hour…I thought that was too hard for him, but he got it!

It just made me so happy to know that this book is still being used and teaching another generation!

Thank you, Aunt Dee!

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The 3 Piggy Opera

It’s a kindergarten tradition at my boys’ school to have the kindergartners rehearse (for weeks!) and perform the 3 Piggy Opera in the spring. Today was Jack Henry’s big day!

He was playing the role of the Brick Pig, and he nailed it, as you’ll see in this short, amateur video shot by yours truly, who was also foolishly trying to balance her camera in her other hand.

The other boys were NOT interested in solos at this age at all, so it surprised me that he wanted it. I was so proud :)

i love when he spots me in the audience!

i love when he spots me in the audience!

this expression...

this expression…

post-play hug for mom.  and proof that i can barely still lift him!

post-play hug for mom. and proof that i can barely still lift him!

—-

This morning, as he was getting dressed for the play, he started to cry. I asked what was wrong, and told him he looked great.

“It’s just…it’s dance party day* and I don’t want to wear a tie and my Chucks!”

Understood. Change of clothes for after the performance made everything just fine.

*afternoon celebration for good behavior

A Little Catch Up

This is long, I know. But it’s real, and everyone tells me I’m going to want to remember these times, so I know I have to write it down or it’s gone. That said, the last 4 days have looked a little like this:

Thursday
3:30am: I am awakened by strong thunderstorms that eventually turn into a tornado siren going off at…
5:30am: Wake boys and gather everyone in the basement. Turn on TV and realize that the tornado is nowhere near us, and send everyone back to bed. Which is kinda dumb because…
6:15am: it’s time to wake up for the day.
ALL DAY LONG: rotation of storms/hail/quiet for a few hours/more storms, knowing that very strong front is on it’s way around 7pm.
6:45pm: Tornado sirens go off well ahead of the impending storm…it’s still 45 minutes away, but we return to the basement, and stay there through…
8:20pm: seems like it’s over. Our front yard looks like this:

that's black mulch under there.

that’s black mulch under there.


8:30pm: boys are settled in their rooms
8:31pm: siren goes off again. Everyone to the basement.
8:40pm: all clear. Go back to bed.
8:50pm: Jack Henry is scared (for the first time in his life, I think) of all the sirens and storms, and doesn’t want to sleep alone. Executive decision made by me that he will instead go sleep in Bennett’s new room with him in the double bed. This is greeted by B with far less resistance than expected…he’s probably relieved he’s not alone either.
8:51pm: Luke decides he’ll just sleep on the floor in B’s room, too. Everyone, miraculously, just goes to sleep.

Friday
Normal day, really.
7:30pm: pick up coffee for Matt and a latte for me (serious turning point in my life: I can handle drinking a latte now despite my life-long absolute hatred of all things coffee!) at Starbucks drive-thru. Barista calls me sweetheart twice, which makes the 2 boys in my car giggle, and B ask, “seriously, why would he do that?”.
7:45pm: Matt’s mom and dad come into town to join us for part of the weekend! We meet at Luke’s game in the Chesterfield valley. Oh, it’s approximately 40 degrees and windy, making it feel like less than that.
9:50pm: game over. Absolutely frozen despite layers of winter coats, scarves, and blankets.
10:45pm: boys in bed. Time for drinking wine and chatting with Ron and Jo.

Saturday
1:00am: go to bed. Yeah. We stayed up kinda late but it was worth it.
6:20am: alarm goes off. I say to Matt, “Can you even imagine how tired we’ll be when we get to come home tonight at 10:30?”
7:30am: out the door headed to Forest Park for the Read, Right and Run Marathon, in a caravan with B’s friend Ty and his mom. For the first and only time (because it’s K-5), all of our boys are runners! 6000 kids are running (split into 2 groups) this year, and the organization of the event has clearly gotten away from them.
9:45am: boys finally nearing the starting point, so we head to watch near the finish line.
10:15am: we’ve seen Luke and Jack Henry cross the finish line…but where is Bennett?
10:30am: MASS CHAOS is the only way I can think to describe trying to get to the meeting spot for the boys after the race. I finally think to text my friend Robin, who was standing across the street from us, to see if she had seen B cross the finish line…the answer is yes, AND it was before Luke (crazy…I had no idea he could keep pace with Luke!)
11:10am: finally back to the van with everyone we came there with.

my 3 medalists!

my 3 medalists!


11:45am: pick up lunch at Which Wich, get home in bad traffic, eat, change, B opens his birthday gifts from his grandparents, and it’s out the door!
cool gifts from nana jo and papa ron!

cool gifts from nana jo and papa ron!


1:00pm: B and Matt to the ballpark. SIDENOTE: B’s team is comprised of 3 2nd-grade boys and 9 3rd graders, and they are playing in a league of 4th graders this year.
1:30pm: everyone else leaves – Ron, Jo and Luke to the ballpark, JH and me 30 minute away to his practice
2:00pm: B’s 1st game starts, JH’s practice starts
2:10pm: I get a quick jog in before…
3:00pm: pick up JH, head to ballpark
4:00pm: 2nd game starts
6:00pm: Ron and Jo head back to Effingham; we get dinner at BWW with some families from B’s team
8:00pm: game 3 of the day begins. Hard-fought, but the 3rd loss of the day.
10:15pm: home. Everyone to bed…but not before Bennett does his daily push-ups. Not even kidding…this kid just played baseball all day (and ran a short race in the morning), and he won’t let a day lapse without doing his push-ups. That’s dedication, and I wish I could say I was that devoted to keeping myself strong!
10:30pm: that should say “everyone to bed except the mama”, who has baseball pants to scrub and muddy coats to wash.

Sunday
12:15am: I go to bed.
8:30am: L, JH and me to church; Matt and B to the ballpark.
11:00am: all of us at the ballpark. B’s team loses game 4 of their tournament seeding games, making them the 3 seed (of 3 teams).
11:45am: celebrate B’s birthday with his teammates! B is grouchy, sore, and hangry (hungry+angry, it’s a real thing, especially in this family)
12:00pm: lunch at McAlister’s, during which time Matt tells me that Bennett’s baseball pants were filthy BEFORE the game even started because of the warm-up pop flies he’d been throwing him. I could’ve done without that information.
1:00pm: B’s mood has improved significantly after lunch and a couple of stern lectures about family and sacrifice yadda yadda
2:00pm: game 5 of the weekend). Truly, in terms of the tournament, the only game that was a must-win (to get to the championship game. And win they did! They kill it, and Bennett has an awesome game at the plate: 2 huge hits (a single and a double) and 3 RBIs.

i love watching this kid run the bases, and his dad coach him all the way around!

i love watching this kid run the bases, and his dad coach him all the way around!


ready to hit a double

ready to hit a double


batted in by the next batter after his double

batted in by the next batter after his double


4:00pm: championship game starts. They try hard, but lose 11-1, and are so proud of their 2nd place finish, especially in a league where they’re the youngest by far!
5:00pm: I bring JH and L, who are dirty and tired, home from the fields to shower and get ready for a sitter. I’m headed to small group at 6:00pm.

Matt and B come home at 7:30 and crash for the night, I get home at 8:45pm and our whole house is sound asleep by 9:30pm. I’m pretty sure that hasn’t happened since we had a newborn in the house.

Today, these kids are exhausted after their first full baseball weekend of the year, and so are Matt and I! Even having it be his birthday couldn’t get B up and moving very quickly this morning. We’re looking forward to a simple celebration tonight, and more sleep.

All About Bennett (Early Birthday Edition)

1. As a follow-up to this post on his coughing issue: it’s asthma. I’m certain. He’s been on a steroid inhaler for 2+ months now, and we’ve broken out the rescue inhaler twice and used it for a maximum of a week each time when he started a little bit of a cough. No daily coughing anymore! It’s such a relief to feel like we at least know what it is. Now, he can’t stay on this steroid inhaler forever, and will likely go off it after allergy season passes. So it will be interesting to see how it all unfolds after that, but at least now we know.

2. His head wound has healed so beautifully I can’t believe it! Just a perfect pink line all through his eyebrow, which is sure to fade with time. It’ll be slathered in sunscreen all summer, but he always is anyway.

3. On Saturday, Bennett had his first practice baseball game, and during warm-ups, somehow took a ricocheted flyball to the lip. Gotta love getting a call from your friend (and coach’s wife) who’s already at the game, alerting you to the fact that you may see B coming back from the concession stand with a bleeding lip and ice pack, but that she’s checked it and it doesn’t need stitches. Sigh.

4. We decided, rather rashly for our family, to convert the guest bedroom into a bedroom for Bennett, which means all 3 boys have separate rooms now! Bennett was all for this, and he will gladly give up his room and bunk with Jack Henry when we have company, which was the deal we made with him upon making the switch.

Of course, he chose Illini as his theme, which is really cool because we had all kinds of stuff to go in there. Take a little look around!

uncle jake...recognize that old poster??

uncle jake…recognize that old poster??

reading corner

reading corner

inside the closet...my fave ikea storage unit (expedit) with some old illini crates.

inside the closet…my fave ikea storage unit (expedit) with some old illini crates.

view from the door

view from the door

nightstand...hayley made that frame years ago! cutie-pie little illini bros pic from 2008.

nightstand…hayley made that frame years ago! cutie-pie little illini bros pic from 2008.

2 old tees stretched over a canvas on the left; a cross-stitch of the chief that matt's mom made for him in college.

2 old tees stretched over a canvas on the left; a cross-stitch of the chief that matt’s mom made for him in college.

I have to admit, even more than when Luke moved into his own room 2 years ago (very few changes were made to decor), this felt like doing a big kid’s room for the first time. Which made me a tiny bit sad, but it was also really fun that he had ideas and input.

5. As of next Monday, he’ll be 9. NINE. One year from double-digits. Halfway to leaving for college. Birthdays now bring about a sense of urgency in me…there’s still so much I want him to know, and the years to learn those things are just flying by. And when I get reflective about Bennett and who he is and what it’s like to parent him, I get kinda weepy…I don’t know, I just love him so much, and parenting him has been challenging beyond what I envisioned and made me grow and stretch and I’m thankful for that and just hope we’re doing what’s right and good for him (and his brothers, of course) all the time. Does that make any sense?

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He’ll spend the weekend leading up to his birthday playing baseball, and his love for the sport combined with his love for his team makes that the perfect way to celebrate.

2nd season of t-ball ( sadly, i have no pics of him playing his first season!)

2nd season of t-ball ( sadly, i have no pics of him playing his first season!)

he'd just turned 4 here.

he’d just turned 4 here.

There will be lots of little celebrations over the coming days that I’ll be sure to document!